The Secretary of State to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Martin)1

My Dear Mr. Speaker: There is transmitted herewith a draft of a proposed joint resolution2 providing for membership and participation [Page 325] by United States in the South Pacific Commission and authorizing an appropriation therefor. Adoption of such a resolution is necessary to permit the United States to accept fully the Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Commission. A copy of the Agreement is enclosed.3

This Agreement was signed by the United States Delegate to the South Seas Conference on February 6, 1947 at Canberra, Australia, subject to acceptance by this Government. Delegates at the Conference, representing the Governments of Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, also signed the Agreement.4 The purpose of the Commission is to provide the means whereby Governments which administer non-self-governing territories in the South Pacific may cooperate with one another to promote the economic and social advancement of the peoples of these territories. There are some fifteen non-self-governing territories in the region, the total population of which approximates 2,000,000.

The United States has the obligation, under Article 73 (d) of the Charter of the United Nations, to cooperate with other governments with a view to the practical achievement of the social and economic advancement of non-self-governing territories. The United States is responsible for the administration of American Samoa and a number of other islands in the South Pacific. Participation by the United States, therefore, in the Commission would not only be in accord with the Charter of the United Nations but would also contribute to effective administration of the United States island possessions in the South Pacific.

Other important interests of the United States in the South Pacific would also be protected and advanced by membership in the Commission. Although the Commission does not have the power to concern itself with political matters or with questions of defense or security, it will indirectly contribute to the political stability and, therefore, the security of the area. Since ten percent of the trade of the area is with the United States, this Government also has an interest in programs affecting the area’s economy.

The Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Commission was largely based upon experience derived from the organization and activities of the Caribbean Commission. Both Commissions have been [Page 326] designated to facilitate regional cooperation in areas where the presence of non-self-governing territories makes such cooperation particularly important.

It is significant that the Governments of Australia and New Zealand have taken the initiative in setting up the South Pacific Commission, are assuming a large share of the cost thereof, and are determined that a regional organization for non-self-governing territories shall be established in the South Pacific. Since it is extremely important that the United States participate in any intergovernmental program which may affect its interests in the South Pacific and for other reasons cited above, it is strongly urged that favorable consideration be given by the Congress to the proposed joint resolution.

A similar letter is being dispatched to the President pro tempore of the United States Senate.

The Department has been informed by the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection to the submission of this proposal.

Sincerely yours,

G. C. Marshall
  1. The same letter, mutatis mutandis, was sent to the President pro tempore of the Senate, Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg.
  2. Not printed. For text as adopted by the Congress and approved on January 28, 1948, see 62 Stat. 15.
  3. The South Seas Conference met at Canberra, Australia, from January 28 to February 6, 1947, and the agreement was signed ad referendum for the United States by Robert Butler, United States Ambassador to Australia and Chairman of the U.S. Delegation. For text, see TIAS 2317, or United States Treaties and Other International Agreements No. 1787 (2 UST 1787). The agreement entered into force on July 29, 1948.
  4. For a report on the South Seas Conference, with an analysis of the agreement establishing the South Pacific Commission, see Department of State Bulletin, March 16, 1947, pp. 459 ff.